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Eilenfeldt v. United C.U.S.D. #304 Board of Education

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Rock Island Division

March 25, 2014

PAMELA EILENFELDT, as next friend of her minor child, J.M., Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED C.U.S.D. #304 BOARD OF EDUCATION, a Political Subdivision of the State of Illinois; JEFF WHITSITT, an individual; KRISTEN NELSON, an individual; RYAN WESTART, an individual; LORI SCHROCK, an individual; DONNA WINBIGLER, an individual; DENNIS BROWN, an individual; and DOES I-XX, inclusive, Defendants

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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For Pamela Eilenfeldt, as next friend of her minor child, J.M., Plaintiff: Jason J Bach, LEAD ATTORNEY, THE BACH LAW FIRM, LLC, Las Vegas, NV.

For United CUSD 304 Board of Education, a Political Subdivision of the State of Illinois, Jeff Whitsitt, individually and in his official capacity as superintendent of schools, Kristen Nelson, individually and in her official capacity as principal of United Junior High School, Ryan Westart, Lori Schrock, Donna Winbigler, Dennis Brown, Defendants: John E Cassidy, III, LEAD ATTORNEY, CASSIDY & MUELLER, Peoria, IL.

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ORDER

SARA DARROW, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

Plaintiff Pamela Eilenfeldt brings this action on behalf of her son J.M., who was continuously bullied and harrassed when he was in the seventh and eighth grades at United Junior High School in Monmouth, Illinois. Eilenfeldt alleges that Defendants enabled, and, in some instances, encouraged, students to bully and harass J.M. At issue are Defendants' Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint, ECF No. 25, and Defendants' Motion to Supplement Case Law in Support of Motion to Dismiss First Amended Complaint, ECF No. 30. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is granted in part and denied in part, and the Motion to Supplement Case Law is granted. Counts I and V through VIII are dismissed. The Court grants Eilenfeldt leave to amend her complaint consistent with this Order.

BACKGROUND

At the motion to dismiss stage, well-pleaded facts alleged in the complaint are taken as true and all inferences are drawn in favor of the plaintiff. Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1081 (7th Cir. 2008). Accordingly, the Court rests its decision on the following factual allegations:

I. Parties

Eilenfeldt brings this action on behalf of her minor child J.M. against various individuals

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and entities associated with the United Community Unit School District #304 (" C.U.S.D." or " School District" ). Eilenfeldt asserts that Defendants acted under color of law and makes her claims against each individual Defendant in his or her individual capacity. Defendants' identities are as follows:

1. Defendant C.U.S.D. is a political subdivision of the State of Illinois and operates United Junior High School, a public educational institution located in Monmouth, Illinois.
2. Defendant Jeff Whitsitt is the superintendent of schools for the School District.
3. Defendant Kristen Nelson is the principal of United Junior High School.
4. Defendants Ryan Westart, Lori Schrock, and Donna Winbigler are teachers at United Junior High School.
5. Defendant Dennis Brown is a guidance counselor at United Junior High School.
T6. The true names and capacities of Defendants Doe I-XX [1] are unknown to Eilenfeldt. Eilenfeldt is informed and thereon alleges that each Defendant designated as Doe is responsible in some manner for the events referred to in this action and proximately caused J.M.'s injuries.

II. Bullying and Harassment of J.M.

Various students at United Junior High School began bullying and harassing J.M. in January 2011 when he was a seventh-grader. The bullying and harassment continued through the end of that academic year and into the following academic year when J.M. was an eighth grader. During this period, students bullied J.M. by, among other things, taunting, teasing, pushing, punching, and kicking him. Except for one instance of bullying, School District officials and United Junior High School administrators and teachers never investigated complaints that J.M. had been bullied, or punished a student for bullying J.M. To the contrary, administrators and teachers facilitated ongoing bullying of J.M. by failing to stop the bullying, actively encouraging bullying, and punishing J.M. for defending himself while being bullied.

The bullying began in January, 2011 when " T1.," " P.," and " D1." (presumably other students, though Eilenfeldt does not make this clear) repeatedly shoved J.M. in the hallways and inappropriately touched him in the locker room. Eilenfeldt immediately reported this conduct to three of J.M.'s teachers, Westart, Winbigler, and a Mr. Noonan.[2] Despite the report, J.M.'s teachers did not investigate the incidents or punish the students who were involved. When responding to the complaints, Winbigler said that J.M. " brought some of this on himself."

These initial incidents were just the beginning of the bullying. Students verbally taunted J.M by calling him a rapist, pedophile, and child molester and suggesting that he was sexually attracted to young boys. In addition to the verbal bullying, students produced pictures, graffiti artwork, and videos depicting J.M. as a pedophile and child molester. ...


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